How we manage our natural resources - including our response to the challenges of climate change - is one of the most pressing concerns facing businesses, governments and publics across the world.

As we all look for solutions to achieve environmental improvements, the downstream sector is well-placed to play an integral part in helping to meet global and national ambitions, whilst maintaining economic growth.

In 2015, the UN Climate Conference (COP21) in Paris committed 195 signatories to limit global temperature rises below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5°C.

This followed many years of both national and international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from across all sectors of the economy, not least in the UK the Climate Change Act 2008. This initially mandated an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050 but was updated in 2019 to put into UK law a requirement to reduce net emissions by 100% - what has become known as net zero.

The Paris Agreement underlines the fact that climate change is a global challenge that can only succeed through combined, international action. The UK is responsible for roughly 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions and therefore achieving significant reductions alone is not enough.

Nonetheless, our industry knows it has a role in reducing carbon emissions and improving its environmental performance, with significant advances in limiting refinery emissions over the last two decades, which already demonstrates the downstream oil sector's commitment to meeting global targets.

Fuels Industry UK has published our own report on the role of the sector in the net zero challenge in the "Transition, Transformation, and Innovation" report. As that report sets out, the sector - by reinventing itself using its extensive resources - can decarbonise its activities and products. The sector can help reduce emissions in other sectors too by acting as an 'anchor' for at scale decarbonisation technologies such as carbon capture and hydrogen, as well as producing low carbon fuels that reduce reliance on highly carbon intensive feedstocks such as fossil fuels for example in transport and home heating.

Companies in the downstream sector are ready and willing to rise to the challenge in helping the UK meet its net zero target.

Fuels Industry UK and the downstream industry work with government, regulators and other stakeholders to identify the best ways to achieve emissions targets. This includes:

  • Identifying and implementing the lowest cost carbon reduction options
  • Improving energy efficiency
  • Investigating and developing new low-carbon fuels and technologies and the policies to implement them
  • Raising awareness of the importance of carbon reduction
  • Guiding society so that behaviour is influenced and changed
  • Learning best practice from other countries
  • Working with other countries to develop international plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to introduce new fuels and technologies

How we meet that demand, whilst supporting the pathway to a low-carbon future, is the overriding goal across our sector.

To learn more about climate change and the environment, including issues relating to air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, visit our Publications page or contact to speak to one of our specialists.

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